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Telecon tomorrow (Thursday) @ 5 pm Eastern time

Hi all,

Telecon tomorrow (May 14 in North America, May 15 in Australia) at the regular time: 5 pm Eastern (2 pm Pacific, 11 am Hawaii, 23.00 European, 7 am Eastern Australia). We received the 20 new long fiberglass rods last week, and used them to do a two-parafoil drop test with a full spar frame on both parafoils on Sunday, which went great! Also Radiometrix is presently updating and testing our SHX1 144 MHz transceiver modules; and engineering students Josh Gage and Evan Moore are presently testing out some new laser diodes and photodiodes. Also, some more testing of the new Raveon M8S data modems in the lab, new Hamamatsu and Thorlabs photodiodes are here in Victoria and ready to be tested, and progress on AIFCOMSS station-keeping prediction/simulation software. More discussion items for tomorrow's telecon include: flight/telescope plans and tests; construction and lab tests of the new gondolas/payloads; light sources and light source modelling; goniometric and pre- and post-flight calibration; propulsion work; nanosat bus and payload solid models; computing / website / TWiki forums and e-mails; grant applications; and recap of schedules. I'll send a progress report before the telecon tomorrow.

Here's how to connect:

1) Open Skype on your computer (note that of course, you should first install Skype, http://www.skype.com, on your machine if you haven't already).
2) In the "Contacts" menu, add me ( jalbertuvic ) as a contact, if you haven't already.
3) Just wait for me to Skype-call you at the usual time (5 pm Eastern, 2 pm Pacific, etc).
4) If there is any trouble, or if you don't get a Skype-call for some reason and would like to join, please just send me an e-mail (jalbert@uvicNOSPAMPLEASE.ca).

Here's the tentative agenda:

I) Flight & telescope plans, and upcoming tests
II) Construction, drop tests, and other tests of the new gondola and payload
III) Diffused light source and its modelling, pre- and post-flight calibration, and goniometric calibrations
IV) Solid modelling
V) Computing/website, including recent flight control and simulation progress
VI) Grant applications

Talk to you all tomorrow, thanks!!!

-- jalbert - 2020-05-13

Hi all,

Apologies for the delay! -- here's an update on ALTAIR balloon work and a reminder of the telecon in 30 minutes(!) from now. (BTW, my apologies also for the announcement message being sent twice yesterday -- the UVic listserv was acting up):

The set of 20 new long [10'] fiberglass spars from McMaster-Carr arrived last week on May 6 (and the nylon set screws arrived on May 4), and I set up for a new drop test with both parafoils with full spar frames, including diagonal cross-ties and center cross-braces (which requires a total of 8 long fiberglass spars -- previously we only had 4 of the long fiberglass spars, with one being broken and semi-repaired -- and 6 short spars, for which we use bamboo stakes [easily available, and of which we have always had plenty]). The drop test was done this past Sunday (May 10), and went very well. Here's a photo of the two parafoils all set up:

and here's the video of the drop test itself:

I think the only thing left to do regarding these outdoor drop tests -- before trying them with the real ALTAIR payload, of course -- is to time a 2-parafoil drop test vs. a 1-parafoil and see if using 2 parafoils rather than 1 results in a measurably slower drop (and, thus, a measurably gentler landing). Doing that simple test will just require two more drop tests. Another separate thing that might be nice to fix, but is not urgent, is the fact that the nylon set screws get stripped easily (a sort-of-workaround to that is to use a Torx driver [T20] instead of the nominal Allen driver to drive these 1/4"-20 nylon socket head set screws, but that doesn't solve the following second issue), and the fiberglass spars tend to fall out of them. What I think could fix those issues is to use these screws instead: https://www.mcmaster.com/90291a533 , so I'll get a few packs of those the next time that I do an order from McMaster-Carr. But those are neither urgent nor needed for the timed drop tests, which I'll try to do this weekend.

Radiometrix has our four SHX1-144 transceiver modules (they arrived there on Apr. 6) and is doing their firmware update that solves the BUSY output issue. They'll then test them out and send them back to us. As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, they will likely need another month or two before they can fully attend to this, and thus we just need to wait for them, and greatly hope that the COVID-19 situation improves in the UK (and everywhere else of course too) soon.

We've also been doing more connecting up and testing out of our two new 144 MHz Raveon M8S data modem transceivers here in Victoria:

After successfully checking them out with Raveon's Windows-based Radio Manager software, I've started to connect the radios up to Arduino Megas -- in the next few weeks I'm planning to get them talking to one another, and then I'll check out their effective ranges.

Engineering student Josh Gage successfully tested out the laser diodes -- he found some quite unusual tails ("wings") in their light output distributions that he is now investigating:

We also have our 10 Hamamatsu S12698-01 photodiodes and 3 Thorlabs FDS100-NOCAN photodiodes (those Thorlabs ones have their windows removed) here in Victoria:

I've given them to Evan (new engineering student) to try out -- he's taking a few weeks to ramp up, and will produce some linearity, etc., plots from them soon.

I'm also working with another undergraduate student on the actual station-keeping algorithm for AIFCOMSS. Presently the "station keeping" code in AIFCOMSS just turns on the propellers in the simulation at full power, and propels the gondola in a single direction until the battery runs out (it's presently most certainly not actual "station keeping"). I added some hooks for adding actual station keeping algorithms into the code, and we're developing the algorithms and will implement them.

The survey-tripod-mounted device to cross-check yaw-pitch-roll information from the gondola (e.g., on days before/after flights) is also constructed now, thanks to Mark Lenckowski -- photo at:

and all that remains to be done is to finish the small fitting between the device and the bottom of the payload. The purchased hardware in it includes both the survey tripod (http://www.cpotools.com/cst-berger-60-alwi20-o-aluminum-tripod-with-quick-release--orange-/cstn60-alwi20-o,default,pd.html), two adjustable angle mounts (http://www.thorlabs.com/thorproduct.cfm?partnumber=AP180), and a rotation mount (https://www.thorlabs.com/thorproduct.cfm?partnumber=RP01). That last fitting to attach (temporarily, pre- or post-flight) the upper adjustable angle mount to the payload landing gear has been started and will be completed here in the next couple weeks.

We're currently revising the draft initial contractual agreement from our colleagues at Globalstar Canada regarding 2 initial SPOT Trace devices (and their service plans) for the educational side-project for the upcoming NATO SPS application, in which classrooms in elementary and high schools could launch company-donated SPOT Traces using party balloons (or a more environmentally-friendly version thereof), and track them to learn more about winds at different levels in Earth's atmosphere.

Houman will send Cordell and/or us updated sections of his master's thesis soon -- that information will be extremely useful to us going forward. Also, Susana and Nathan, it would be very helpful for us all to get the JHU students' final writeup when you have a chance.

Next grant application will be a NATO "Science for Peace and Security" application (together with Australian colleague partners).

Our next telecon is in a half-hour from now (see below for Skype instructions).

Cheers, talk in 30 minutes(!) from now -- thanks all!


-- jalbert - 2020-05-14

Title Telecon tomorrow (Thursday) @ 5 pm Eastern time
Forum ForumGeneral
Topic attachments
I Attachment History Action Size Date Who Comment
JPEGjpg ALTAIRBothParafoilsFullyOutfittedWithNewFiberglassSparsAndNylonScrews8May20.JPG r1 manage 3895.1 K 2020-05-14 - 00:04 JustinAlbert Both parafoils fully outfitted with new fiberglass rod spar frames (including diagonal cross-ties, center cross-braces, etc) and new nylon set screws
Quicktime moviemov ALTAIRDropTestWith2FullyOutfittedParafoils10May20.MOV r1 manage 6489.9 K 2020-05-13 - 23:57 JustinAlbert A first drop test with both parafoils fully outfitted with spar frames including diagonal cross-braces, center cross-ties, etc, using our new set of fibreglass rods that arrived (and new nylon set-screws)
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Topic revision: r2 - 2020-05-14 - JustinAlbert
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